While on our early morning hike today we spotted the elusive, rare, single-antlered Mojave Reindeer. He was perched on a cliff high on the mountain.
We crept – quietly and softly – up the trail and around the boulders. We inched closer, ever fearful of frightening off this shy, magnificent creature. It has been decades since the last sighting of the endangered single-antlered Mojave Reindeer. Thanks to the Endangered Species Act, single-antlered Mojave Reindeer have rebounded throughout the Santa Rosa Mountains that divide the desert from the Coastal Plains. But they remain shy and recluse.
We wondered how close we would be allowed to get before he became nervous. We moved slowly. The animal peered left and then right as a flock of crows squawked nearby. He was unbothered by the cawing. His sight remained on the flock of California Quail in the brush below.
As the morning mist lifted, the creature came into clearer view. His antler was on the right side which indicated a male. On females, the antlers are on the left. From the size of the antler the creature must have been 4 or 5 years old. They’re known to live for ten or twelve years. His fur was gold colored and radiated in the morning sun.
We inched our way closer. The animal seemed unconcerned by our presence. He must have known that we donated regularly to Greenpeace, Wilderness Society, Defenders of Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation Society, Audubon, Humane Society, ASPCA, Sierra Club and the Palm Springs Animal Shelter- to name just a few.
Despite his regal-ness, the animal had a perpetual smile on his face and seemed unabashed by his odd evolutionary departure from his Northern two-antlered reindeer ancestors. We named him “Morgan the Magnificent.”
As he basked on the cliffs in the dry warm southern desert it was obvious that Morgan had no intention of ever migrating back to his former frigid home in LapLandia.